Council Chamber is an Idea Incubator at First Meeting of the Council Period

When a Council Period comes to a close, any legislation that was not approved by the Council during that two-year period meets its end as well. However, while the final meeting of a Council Period is a bit of a legislative graveyard, the first meeting of the following Council Period is a teeming idea incubator. With no pending legislation to address (with limited exceptions described below), the stage is set for Councilmembers to introduce a plethora of new bills.

Such was the case at the first Legislative Meeting of Council Period 22, which will run from 2017 to 2018. (The prior week’s organizational meeting, where Council rules and committees are approved, is in effect Legislative Meeting Zero.) To facilitate the introduction of legislation, a waiver of rules allowed Councilmembers to exceed the usual limit of three introductions per Legislative Meeting, instead allowing as many as could be done in a ten-minute period.

It should be noted that some of the bills newly-introduced in Council Period 22 were actually measures “resurrected” after expiring at the end of Council Period 21, with hopes of greater success the second time around.

A few other measures that first came about during Council Period 21 also found their way onto the agenda of this most recent meeting. Due to the required layover in Congress of all District legislation, many bills must additionally be passed in an emergency (lasts 90 days, requires a single Council vote) and temporary (lasts 225 days, requires two Council votes) version. For a handful of temporary bills passed late during Council Period 21, a second approval was needed, and came, at this most recent meeting.

Meet the Newly Introduced Bills

The measures introduced at the meeting were bills included those to:

  • Re-establish a local, multi-agency Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation to help coordinate planning and beautification efforts on that key artery
  • Allow for package delivery by personal delivery devices (robots)
  • Eliminate the ability of grocery stores to place restrictive covenants banning new grocery stores on properties that were formerly home to grocery stores that have since been closed
  • Restrict how third parties can offer individuals receiving a legal settlement the opportunity to instead receive funds in a reduced lump sum form
  • Require notification and opt-out opportunities prior to contracts automatically renewing
  • Eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual abuse crimes
  • Reduce use of solitary confinement of those who are incarcerated
  • Provide minority Certified Business Enterprise companies the same preference in bidding for housing trust fund projects that nonprofit organizations currently receive
  • Expand the right to free legal counsel to include civil cases (Civil Gideon)
  • Tighten rent control legislation so that landlords can increase rent annually only to reflect any increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and by 5 percent after vacancies (versus CPI+2% and 10% currently, respectively)
  • Eliminate funding inequities between small, home-based child development centers and other early childhood education providers
  • Require that all DC Public Schools provide 40 hours a week of school nurse coverage
  • Eliminate the statute of limitations on civil sex abuse cases
  • Require anti-lead water filters in schools, recreation centers, and day cares
  • Legalize marijuana, including regulating and taxing marijuana sales
  • Require disclosure to potential homeowners of any past stop-work orders issued on the property in question
  • Mandate that all independent election expenditures are truly independent, and to allow only individuals to donate to campaign committees
  • Provide targeted low-income housing tax credits in the area surrounding the planned Wizards practice facility in Southeast
  • Provide grants assisting residents in the area surrounding the planned Wizards practice facility in Southeast with legal protections
  • Create a taskforce to investigate how best to provide public restrooms
  • Allow nonprofit developers to use Low Income Housing Tax Credit funds to build mixed use projects with community-oriented non-housing uses on the ground floor
  • Reform various ethics rules, including allowing the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability to broaden the content of its annual report, require government employees to disclose outside employment
  • Allow voters who have been victims of domestic abuse, sexual crimes, etc. to keep their address off of voter rolls by filing a sworn affidavit
  • Require lobbyists to file more extensive reports, and to do so monthly, instead of semi-annually
  • Create a task force specifically focused on removing barriers for residents to access government-owned recreational/health facilities, like sports fields, playgrounds, etc.
  • Raise awareness of negative health impacts of excessively heavy backpacks on children
  • Establish a Health Literacy Council, to provide residents access to clear and helpful information regarding improved health
  • Encourage installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all homes and public places
  • Establish a WiFi taskforce to investigate the possible creation of a municipal WiFi network
  • Provide extreme weather protection for animals by defining what temperature triggers cruelty law
  • Expand the police force to 4,200
  • Exclude the wages of first responders from local income tax
  • Reduce the commercial tax rate in the District’s east end to mirror the residential rate, to encourage business development
  • Provide tax relief to senior citizens, including real property tax relief, deduction of long-term care costs, etc.
  • Expand the list of offenses subject to criminal record expungement
  • Strengthen the District’s First Source hiring restrictions on government projects
  • Reappoint Kathy Patterson as the District Auditor
  • Eliminate the Department of General Services independent procurement authority, instead placing it at the Office of Contracts and Procurement as is the case with other agencies
  • Ban those who donate to political candidates from contracting with the District
  • Extend the time for the disposition of a property on Barnaby Road, SE
  • Target elder abuse by approving a uniform power of attorney law

For a full list of all actions taken at the meeting, please click here.